Iowa Program to Help Small Processors Grow their Businesses

( Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship )

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig have announced the creation of a Meat Processing Expansion and Development Program. COVID-19 has created supply chain disruptions, putting significant demands on the state’s small (25 employees or less) meat and poultry processors. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $2 million through CARES Act funding to support these local processors during the recovery effort. The funding will be awarded through three grant programs administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, according to a department release.

“Iowa is at the foundation of our global food supply chain and the epicenter of the renewable fuels industry,” said Gov. Reynolds, in the release. “COVID-19 and a devastating derecho dealt a major blow to everything from the demand for ethanol to the supply of meat on grocery store shelves. But just as important are the livelihoods of thousands of Iowa farm families, agricultural industries and the communities they support. Today’s investment reflects the critical role Iowa’s ag industry has in our state's overall economic recovery.”

“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of and increased the demand for locally-grown foods,” said Secretary Naig, in the release. “Thanks to this funding commitment from Gov. Reynolds, the Department will be able to invest in building strong markets for our local meat and poultry producers and resilient supply chains for their products. This is also an investment in our local meat lockers, which play an important role in their communities and the food supply chain.”

Eligible processors can use the recovery funds for business improvements, direct-to-consumer food marketing or continuing education programs. 

Business Improvement Grant

The business improvement grant will reimburse meat and poultry processors for expenses incurred (up to $50,000) to purchase or upgrade equipment. Eligible expenses must allow the facility to increase its processing capacity to accommodate the increased demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the release says. In some cases, these upgrades may help a custom-exempt processing plant prepare to become an official plant, or help an official plant make the upgrades necessary to qualify for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

To be eligible for a business improvement grant, the applicant must represent an official or custom-exempt processing plant that is licensed and inspected by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, a federally-inspected plant with 25 or less full-time employees, or an Iowa-accredited meat science education program. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7.

Direct Marketing Grant

The direct marketing grant will reimburse livestock producers for a portion of the expenses incurred (up to $2,000) to produce materials, develop services, or purchase equipment to help transition to a direct-to-consumer sales strategy. This may include developing an online sales platform, an alternative sales plan, or another project that would help their farm continue selling their meat products during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release says.

Producers that direct-market less than 200 livestock or 2,000 poultry per year are eligible for this grant. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020.

Tuition Grant

The grant will reimburse owners or employees of state-inspected and licensed meat and poultry establishments who attend and successfully complete a HACCP training program by an accredited program in meat sciences. The coursework shall commence on or after Sept. 8, 2020 and must conclude by Dec. 1, 2020, the release says. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020.

Eligible applicants can apply for the Meat Processing Expansion and Development grants online at Please contact Maison Bleam, program administrator, with questions at 515.281.7808 or